Educational changes can impact social, mental health of students


ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – With the new school year around the corner, schools for students of all ages have had to make changes to their in person and remote learning strategies.

The lack of physical interaction has the potential to impact the social development and mental health of students in more way than one.

“It really does, I think, come down to such an individual child basis,” said Hardin-Simmons University Director of Human Counseling Services Nikki Rhodes.

The pandemic has the potential to make it more difficult for students to join clubs, participate in campus-based activities, and socialize with their classmates in person.

“That sort of social development that students get is lacking,” said Rhodes.

Rhodes says it is important to create a sense of normalcy for all students, especially incoming freshmen who are looking to settle into their new home away from home.

“We know how important it is for freshmen to sort of integrate, and to be bonded with a certain group,” said Rhodes.

When it comes to elementary-age children, Rhodes says some educational milestones can be learned outside of the classroom.

“What research tells us is that the home is the most important place, both academically and socially,” said Rhodes.

Rhodes says this generation of college students grew up during the age of social media, making it easier for them to adjust to the current circumstances, and in some cases, can help students with social anxiety break out of their comfort zone.

“They’ve done so much connecting remotely, right? They’ve done so much of their connecting with their friends just texting and FaceTime and all of the things, and so that, I think, is a benefit now,” said Rhodes.

According to Rhodes, Hardin-Simmons University will continue to provide online counseling sessions throughout the school year.

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